A Sad Story About Anorexia

Deanne says, when I see a story like this I really feel sad. How horrible to be trapped inside this condition for such a long time, and how lonely this lady is. I would like to help her but she thinks she is beyond help. If any reader would like to reach out to Emma Jane please let me know at admin@ncfed.com

ANOREXIA – ‘an ill and morbid state of the spirits, like a skeleton only clad in skin’.
I remember thinking of anorexia as my ‘secret friend’.I even gave her a name.
“Marnie”.Anorexia is MOST DEFINITELY NOT a friend. Unless you think of a friend as being wholly destructive, deadly, lethal, fatal.
Looking back, I still have a very clear memory of the day I decided to just eat Ryvitas. I’m not entirely sure why I picked this particular day, whether there was any great significance in it, or if the little demon that had been quiet enough in my head, had suddenly decided to have a voice and spring into life. And like the friend that I thought it was, I stopped and listened, heeding the advice that it gave me.
I had always had a rather fractious relationship with food, having been bullied mercilessly throughout most of my school life for being ‘the fat girl’, the person that no one wanted to be friends with, like I was some sort of freak of nature, an eyesore, a figure of fun. AND THAT HURT, A LOT.
I suppose I comfort ate. My childhood was fraught with severe trauma and abuse. Those scars having manifested themselves deeply, resulting in complex mental health issues, and at the time I turned to food as a source of comfort, something to enjoy.
On the day that I decided to severely restrict my food intake, I naively thought that I just
didn’t like food anymore. It was no longer the source of joy and comfort that it once had
been. Now it represented the devil, something wholly unlikeable, repugnant and a luxury I should no longer partake in and enjoy.
At the time it caused my family great upset. They just thought it was a phase, that I was
being difficult, dramatic and attention seeking. They seemed to make no effort to understand AT ALL.
I loved watching my body change shape. Hip bones appeared, something that I had never experienced before, I had cheek bones and I felt like I was finally getting the body that I had craved as a school girl, only many years too late.
The trouble was once I started to control my eating, I found that I was unable to stop. The control took over my WHOLE LIFE. It was all consuming and it was all I ever thought about. Eventually I got to a stage where my body weight became so low that I was unable to work, to live everyday life. My first hospital admission beckoned.
I was absolutely devastated when this happened. I had to leave my beloved cat at home and I was so upset that I had failed him, just like my family had failed me. I HATED MYSELF.

My admission lasted approximately 4 months. I attended all of the therapy classes and learnt a lot about myself and anorexia. It was no fairy story, believe you and me.
The day I got discharged I was so happy. Happy to be alive and happy to be reunited with my gorgeous cat again.
And I recovered. I stayed well for many years. I think I was so frightened of relapsing that I put my head down, plugged away at my recovery and made really good progress.
And then many years later, things began to go wrong.
My stepfather died after years of battling with alcoholism. I was absolutely devastated. I felt like I was to blame, that I should haven’t done more to help him. But if someone won’t accept their issues and that they need help, then you are very limited as to what you can do.
I had already begun to struggle with my eating but my mental state began to rapidly
deteriorate. I literally felt like I was drowning every minute of the day. There was no let-up.
In what turned out to be my last day at work, I threatened to jump out of the window unless I was allowed to go home. I became totally and utterly hysterical. I knew for a while that my head wasn’t feeling well but I didn’t really understand the messages that it was giving me, or that I was seriously very unwell.
I felt like I was living in some weird, blurry haze. Nothing made sense to me anymore. I
became very impulsive and tried to kill myself on several occasions. Thankfully I didn’t
succeed. My Doctor was and still is absolutely amazing. I remember going to see him after my breakdown. He asked me what had happened. I said “I don’t know but I know I’m not very well”. A whole load of jumbled up words and sentences came flooding out of my mouth.
That was one of the very few occasions where I saw him panic about my state of mind.
As a form of control, my old ‘friend’ Marnie completely took over my head before I had even
realised it. I HAD TO CONTROL EVERYTHING. It was the only thing that I had left in my life.
Week after week, I lost weight. I just couldn’t stop myself, secretly elated when the scales dropped further each time that my Doctor weighed me. He kept asking me to stabilise my weight and I would smile and say that I would try, but had no intention of ever doing it at all.
And then the morning came where I was weighed and it had dropped to such a level that it was beyond dangerous now. I felt too tired and ill to care anymore. I just couldn’t carry on
‘living’ like this. Except I wasn’t even living, I was just existing and barely able to do that now.
So the next day I met my EDS Consultant and my Doctor at my house. They wanted to
admit me that day, that potentially I had just 2 days to live. I refused as I needed to sort out who would look after my little rescue cat and my horse. My whole world was coming crashing down around me. The 2 things I loved more than anything else, and yet again I had failed, BIG TIME. I have massive abandonment issues after my childhood, and here I was abandoning them. On what was deemed my 2nd day left to live, I was admitted to hospital. No level of understanding or support from my family whatsoever. I was so poorly that nobody expected me to survive the weekend, BUT I DID. T and Ro, my cat and horse, gave me the willpower to fight, fight to survive, to live. I JUST COULDN’T LEAVE THEM FOREVER.
My admission lasted for 6 and a half months. During this time I did lots of writing and also wrote and recorded some songs. It’s strange how life takes you on all sorts of paths and journeys that are completely unexpected, but welcome nonetheless.
The worst thing was, was that I HATED GAINING A NORMAL BODY SHAPE again. Where were the bones I used to thrive on seeing? My once skeletal frame that I accepted was ‘normal’, had disappeared. We had body image lessons where they try to convince you that size is just a number and the importance of being healthy. My head just screamed the total opposite to me.
As soon as I was discharged, I stupidly acknowledged the voices in my head telling me to lose weight again, not loads but just enough so that I would feel happier again. I had grown up with the notion that thin girls are popular and have more friends.
So the weight started to fall off me again. I kept vowing to myself that I would stop. I wasn’t going to make myself ill again. That would be stupid, ridiculous after nearly killing myself only a few months previously.
Except when anorexia takes hold again, it has happened before you even realise it.
Suddenly you’re back to all consuming thoughts and taking back control again to very
dangerous levels. Because control is ALL YOU HAVE LEFT.
Nearly 3 years since my discharge and I’m sad to say that anorexia as well as BPD, bipolar and PTSD are STILL causing me great harm, hurt and distress.
I feel really sad that I have let things regress to this level again. I HATE IT AND HATE
MYSELF for allowing it to happen.
There are so many misconceptions and prejudgements surrounding mental health illness. You cannot see a person’s anguish and suffering like you would for a physical ailment. This is beyond frustrating. Mental illness is just so powerful and domineering. Anorexia is certainly no friend of yours either.
I live in hope that one day, either in the near or distant future, that someone will find the right key to open up my mind so they are able to help me. Until then, that box in my head remains very tightly shut. Emma-Jane Bradbury-Jackson

Binge Eating Disorder Research Project; London

My name is Nersi

I am doing qualitative research on binge eating and emotions supervised by Zoe Boden. More specifically, my research includes interviewing 6-10 women who have had recurrent experiences of binge eating and have been diagnosed with any of the eating disorders. My research question is: how do women experience and make sense of their emotions before and after binge eating. As regards, the age range I would like you to be 18-30, to have a history of binge eating the previous 5 years and to have been in a recovery process for the last year.

Calling people from London, for research project Email nersidahalai@gmail.com

 

These Women Say Gyms Must Do More To Help Members Who Have Eating Disorders

I’ve been helping Buzzfeed to prepare an in-depth exposure of gym practices . Gyms are full of men and women who strive to be thin (and fit?);  to shave off fat and to build muscle. Some of these people are overdoing exercise, or are too thin to work out. Some men are abusing steroids to beef up. Some gyms encourage this kind of muscle competition and advise people to take all sorts of pills and supplements that may help. This is just one step away from taking steroids, which can kill and maim.

Do gyms have a moral responsibility to single outEllie Hopleypeople who may have an eating disorder, and tell them to stop coming?

Most gyms have a health questionnaire to fill in for members. But I would like to bet that trainers turn a blind eye to people who appear too thin to pound the treadmill or turn up for their daily 2 mile swim. On top of that, many people with life threatening eating disorders like bulimia, don’t look too thin at all.

If one gym expressed concern, I would also bet that an exercise addict with an eating disorder would just go somewhere else.  Should gyms  have a legal responsibility for clients who run on empty?  I think they have a moral duty. Alongside their advertisements for classes, I would like them to have some health posters up, to guide people against exercise addiction and to help people who might have an eating disorder. They could train staff  to talk to people in confidence and show them where to go for help.

People with eating disorders can be their own worst friends. I’ve heard people say; If no-one has taken me aside and worried about me, it means I am not thin enough, so tha’ts one good reason to keep starving. I’ve heard others deny that they have an exercise addiction; they are addicted to their own endorphins. Exercise addiction – are you or aren’t you… that’s another story for another day.

Gyms and for that matter, personal trainers, have a lot to answer for if they don’t know when and how to say “I’m worried about you- would you like to talk about this?”.I know someone who was driven into a serious eating disorder by a personal trainer who did not know what she was doing.

If this article is taken seriously by just one gym, it was worth writing. If you belong to a gym why not go and talk to someone who will be prepared to read it.

Source Buzzfeed

 

This movie about anorexia is dangerous

Lily Collins, who stars in To the Bone, suffered from an eating disorder as a teenager and lost weight under medical supervision for her role. The trailer for the film has been watched 2m timesThere is a movie about anorexia.

My biggest concern is letting a former sufferer get down to an anorexic weight after she has “recovered”.

My almost less big concern would be letting anyone else thin- down for a part like this. Oh actors do, like Tom Hanks, he got diabetes a few years later.

There are a lot of people who like to voyeur on mental health; we no doubt will see a few more odd movies shortly with purging into toilets or plastic bags or cutting holes out of themselves in the name of public interest. Some people even say it is useful. It destigmatises mental health (no it doesn’t); it inspires people to confess their difficulties (no it doesn’t) and it inspires sufferers to recover (no it doesn’t). I understand that some thinspiration idiots are rubbing their hands with glee about this movie and many might hope to learn some new tricks.

I understand that some people think it will be “triggering”

No doubt I will watch it, otherwise I won’t be able to comment if people ask me about it. But I would rather watch Planet Earth by David Attenborough to lift my spirits, rather than more behaviour which makes me sad and cross. I am exposed to enough human suffering for one lifetime even though my work is my passion, I need other things to remind me of the good and wonderful things in life. Recovery after all, is about tuning into other things in life, not endless infatuation with starving, emaciation, laxatives and purging.

Source: The Times 

Are You Cursed By Perfectionism?

Flora Assistant Producer of 20-20  Productions is looking to interview anyone who feels that perfectionism has blighted their life and led to mental health issues.

I understand perfectionism and it has showed up a lot in my own life, but I have grown to manage it so that I can be happy and effective.

Perfectionism has a lot to answer for, it leads people into particular manias, such as the mania to be super thin, the mania to run marathons even if you are throwing up by the roadside, the mania to climb mountains even if your family need you at home, the mania to take part in cycle races even if you have to inject toxic substances to keep up. Eating disorders and the quest to be thin at all costs is a very particular kind of mania.

Viewing anorexia as a kind of mania is one way we look at the illness, in our quest to heal people and help them live more healthfully. But some people feel that the only way to survive is to follow a particular quest; for perfection in something that becomes important. Who wants to be ….. ordinary.

So if you want to help Flora email  flora.hamilton@twentytwenty.tv

T: +44 (0)203 301 8405

Do People With Eating Disorders Really Care About Fat And Sugar

2015-03-11 18.01.11The experts are now making demons of sugar and saying its really OK to eat fat and fat doesn’t make you fat. I think the message will get home in about 100 years but I don’t think that people who suffer with bulimia and anorexia will take much notice. Because eating is the problem and the nutrients don’t matter very much.  I often wonder whether if people with eating disorders could eat anything they liked and not gain weight, they would still be afraid of food. Because food means much more than what it is in it.

Anyway follow my link TO THIS BOOK  and you can read a review about Fat and Sugar in food. The book which is referenced is “Pure White and Deadly by the way, not sweet white and deadly. And I have a  very old copy.

 

 

Diet Fads Are Destroying Us

Im about to do another obesity training, hot on the heels of more stories about how fat we are becoming. We are told that the great british diet is destroying us and that we should take more responsibility for our food choices. Less sugar, more mung beans so long as they are sprouted. We will live forever, be disease free and get to heaven when we die.

On the other side of the coin, I am doing so much work with people who are terrified to eat and find it hard to manage the idea of eating a piece of cake on their birthday.

And by inbox is full of stuff from nutritional experts trying to convince me that more gluco-oligo-saccharides in my diet are the key to happiness and fitness.

On a practical level, I’ve been visiting my granddaughter in Beirut. Child rearing practices there seem to be a battle between those who let their children and themselves eat whatever, for all sorts of reasons, and those whose children have not seen an ice cream in years. My daughter now asks me, how do we know what is moderate and how do I feed my child without creating either a sense of emotional deprivation by saying NO , or lead my child to physical harm.

I wish I knew the answer, but I don’t. So it is back to grandmother. A little bit of what you fancy does you good. And no one will perish by eating a little sugar or wheat or dairy ice cream. So please take a minute to check this out.

Diet Fads Are Destroying Us

 

Burning To Be Thin : DNP

Dear Eloise Parry,

I am sorry that you aren’t alive any more. I have seen your picture smiling from the newspapers and you look as if you don’t have a care in the world. But something must have been really on your mind to take so much time and trouble to buy some rogue tablets that you hoped would make you thin.  I imagine that you had terrible body image problems. You must have been really at war with yourself to take 8 tablets. You must have had an eating disorder.

I wish you could tell me what was going through your mind when you bought these things. I wonder who told you about them. What was the agony you were feeling when you went searching for this poison?  Did you think you had stumbled on a good idea?

I wonder what was going through your mind as you swallowed them one by one. Did you know that you were about to lose your life, your dreams. All for being a little bit thinner.

Did you think that you would be able to take these monstrous things for the rest of your life? Did you think that getting thin would keep you thin? Everyone who goes on a diet; everyone who swallows pills –  thinks that being thin will keep you thin forever. It doesn’t happen.

Did you want to be another eating disorder victim?  It won’t bring you any medals. Life will still go on but not for you. If only I could rewind time and say to you, please don’t buy into the madness of trying to feel better by destroying your body. Rest in peace.

Understanding Fasting

Both ascetics and anorectics strive for perfection . . . Striving towards the ascetic image is a source of satisfaction, and a source of liberation from imprisonment of the body (or from its definition by others) and its bondage to an unacceptable world. In both cases, asceticism is not experienced as self-destructive, but as self-liberating.

Many with anorexia use their religious beliefs to justify extreme fasting, using some of the same rationalisations as the religious ascetic Both have similar goals, such as:

  • Drawing closer to Divinity
  • Becoming more God-like
  • Becoming more worthy of Grace
  • Weakening the body in order to reduce or eliminate human appetites.

Now these aims are very spiritual and appear worthy. There have been many reports of fasting saints especially before medieval times. These saints were venerated.  Ascetic aims can also mask emotional illness in both the religious ascetic and the anorexic.  So let’s just say that there are connections between all people who fast to bring them closer to a nirvana of one sort or another. It is not just about getting a thigh gap or wearing size zero. They develop a relationship with fasting which becomes more important than the relationship with anything or anyone else.

Virtually every recovering anorectic has had a close relationship with fasting. If a therapist lacks a thorough understanding of fasting from spiritual, psychological, and medical perspectives, he or she could unintentionally allow the anorectic to keep their relationship with fasting a secret. Imagine the therapy session in this way; the anorexic patient is describing a personal experience about fasting, but it becomes clear to the patient that the therapist has only a peripheral understanding of fasting. The anorectic is now the expert on what is a critical feature of their psychiatric disorder and the therapist loses credibility when discussing the topic.

We therapists need to  understand of the importance of exploring fasting behaviour in anorexic patients. And treatment needs to include a discussion of what fasting means to each patient. It is not just about fear of food, it is sometimes the quest for an unattainable emotion or an exalted state of mind.  
There is a saying among mental health professionals, “You’re only as sick as your secrets”.  This implies that holding onto secrets—as opposed to revealing them in a safe setting such as during psychotherapy—could potentially impede the recovery of the eating disordered patient.

So as part of this, therapists even without religious feelings themselves should examine the religious and spiritual beliefs of someone with anorexia. Time spent to helping a sufferer to achieve elation in more helpful ways is known to make a difference.

Tips For Working With Anorexia

A “Positive Disposition to Recover”.

Even if someone volunteers for treatment, if is often to seek relief from preoccupation with food, depression or physical symptoms. It could be due to rising concern about the risks of anorexia or to avoid the side effects such as infertility.  Does this represent a real positive disposition to recover from the illness (whatever that means)?

Recovery from anorexia  is not just about gaining weight. In many cases being willing to gain some weight is “conditional” on continuing to eat a very limited diet, often vegetarian or low in carbohydrate and fat. 

Eating more is often conditional on continuing to exercise a great deal. There  is a great debate about what constitutes “excessive exercise” and our opinions are clouded by views about the dangers of sedentary behaviour and the general approval which is given to people who “go to the gym”. 

So what is really a positive disposition to recover?  Many of the features of anorexia just will NOT go away if someone remains underweight. Cravings, depression, preoccupation with food and health risks do not go away if weight remains low. Many people want rid of the bad aspects of anorexia while continuing to have its benefits like staying abnormally  thin. That’s not easy to work with. People will not want to look like you.

A “positive disposition” should include the desire to be free from compulsion to exercise, and the ability to eat a wide diet, with other people, and freedom from the constant chatter about what foods can and cannot be eaten. A positive disposition will include the desire to welcome the feeling of food inside your stomach. This will never be possible if weight is low.

 Secretly though, I wonder how possible this kind of recovery really is –  because all  of these recovery outcomes are inconsistent with what gets someone into anorexia into the first place. The anorexic  desire for simplicity, the fearfulness, the ascetic drives –  are not features that can just “disappear”. These are aspects of personality which must persist forever. You cannot argue someone out of their basic personality.

So I’m not sure that I can demand a positive disposition to recover in what would suit me, and my expectations cannot be too high. I think that people and therapists must come to some sort of compromise with anorexia over what will be kept and what can go away for someone to live more happily. Experts might disagree with me.